Not only was Final Fantasy VII a game with a superb plot, gameplay, and characterization, but it opened up the social element of gaming for me. A great portion of my 7th grade year --when we weren't playing basketball and dreaming of fantasies of Chicago Bulls stardom -- was spent going to school, going home and playing Final Fantasy VII for a handful of hours after, only to return to school the next day and enlighten my classmates with every little detail that I had encountered the night before. It's amazing what you can do when you have no bills, no job, and generally no responsibilities beyond taking the dog outside and simply not letting your room fall into ruin. That social development is a major reason that this game turned me into the gamer I have become. Not only was I entranced by the game --I often wish I could go back and experience the game for the first time over again-- but it was becoming directly responsible for me developing relationships --a few of which I maintain to this day some 15 years later. Ironically, the activity that is often accused of creating emotional shut-ins living in their parents' basements, and drinking diet Mr. Pibb, was the driving force to me developing my first real set of lasting friendships.
Upon its release in 1997, Final Fantasy VII was groundbreaking. It was the first 3-D game in the series, was astronomically long, and provided a set of characters and plot twists that are stuff of legend in the gaming community to this day. The game also opened up the world of the Role-Playing Game to me. Not only did it determine aspects of my life at the time, but it represented a paradigm shift in the games that I was playing.Twisted Metal, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Mario Kart were now being replaced by Metal Gear Solid, Baldur's Gate, and Chrono Trigger. That's not to say the previous games vanished from my shelf, but they certainly took a backseat to this new wave of games that were currently blowing my gaming mind at that time.
Final Fantasy VII is a game that gloriously and confidently sits on my shelf and makes me smile every time I glance over it. However, it rarely finds its way into my playing rotation anymore. The characters --many who have become industry stereotypes since its release -- are still strong, the plot remains top-notch, but the graphics and gameplay have suffered horribly. Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not claiming that outdated graphics hurt a game traditionally --I play old games all the time -- but for whatever reason, this spot in the history of graphical achievement hasn't aged well. It lacks the precision of even games released shortly thereafter, but also lacks the nostalgic graphic charm of the generations of games before it. It finds itself in the unfortunate position of being too new to be considered with the nostalgic era of my gaming, but too old to be placed within the newer era. For that, it finds itself at a crossroads in my gaming history from which I'm not sure it will ever move from.
Published by Brian Davis
Brian Davis is an active musician, songwriter and writer, a senior at Eureka College majoring in English and creative writing, and an avid Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bulls, and Chicago Bears fan. Brian spends a g... View profile
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